Three SIAT researchers awarded SSHRC Small Explore grants

April 03, 2024

SIAT researchers Dr. Gillian RussellDr. Bernhard Riecke, and Dr. Ö. Nilay Yalçin were recently awarded SSHRC Small Explore Grants to support their diverse and dynamic research projects.

SSHRC Small Explore Research Grants program is administered by Research Services under authority of the SFU/SSHRC Institutional Grants. The funding from these grants is intended to support scholarly research in the contemporary arts, humanities, and social sciences.

Explore and learn more about the research projects:

Dr. Gillian Russell | $9,950

“Translating Critical Co-Design Tools for Public Use”

Fables for Imagining Workshop – A three-part story-making tool designed in the IML to help people cultivate critical digital literacies around the various techno-social realties of social media.

Founded by Dr. Russell and SFU School of Communication's Dr. Frederik Lesage, the Imaginative Methods Lab (IML) is a methods incubator for futures literacies research. The IML creates tools to collaboratively envision socially, ecologically, and technologically sustainable futures together.

As part of their mission to make futuring a more democratic practice, the IML was awarded a SSHRC Small Explore Research Grant to investigate how to translate a series of tools they have designed for a do-it-yourself context. As part of the project, entitled Translating Critical Co-design Tools for Public Use, Russell and Lesage will study how different modes of instruction can be used to share the tacit knowledge of a researcher while ensuring that the tools being shared afford the flexibility to be altered, updated, or remixed by new users to empower people to take the lead in shaping their futures.

Dr. Bernhard Riecke | $7000

“Developing an Equitable, Transdisciplinary Approach to Co-design of Virtual Reality”

Awedyssey project poster

With this project, Dr. Riecke and his collaborators are co-designing virtual reality (VR) tools for well-being promotion with emerging adults (aged 16-30) and community partners.

There is a scarcity of diverse youth lived experiences informing the development and implementation of digital well-being tools, alongside a lack of studies on suitable human-centred design (HCD) methodologies and practices. Subsequently, relevant insights are not widely translated into real solutions for the people who need them. Through this project, the researchers aim to bridge this gap through creation of an initial design framework and a co-designer recruitment strategy that engages equity-deserving emerging adults who face adversity.

To do this, the researchers are using a positive psychology strengths-based approach to well-being design, in which they combine insights from intersectoral community partners (youth, mindfulness/compassion-based facilitators, youth community service providers, and advocates) and transdisciplinary researchers. They will pilot the design framework with iSpace Lab's VR environments, integrating well-being components of compassion cultivation, positive emotions, and meaningful social connection.

More information can be found at:

Dr. Ö. Nilay Yalçin | $6,960

“Exploring the Impact of Emotional Synchrony on Prosocial Behavior: A Study Using Embodied Conversational Agents”

Image depicting a person interacting with a conversational agent

Interpersonal synchrony is a complex phenomenon that have an important role in prosocial behaviour, language learning, social communication, coordination, and understanding of social and emotional signals. The main objective of this project is to advance our understanding about the effects of various dynamics of interpersonal synchrony during social interactions and its effect on prosocial behavior by studying them in controlled interaction settings. Specifically, embodied conversational agents, that are 3D avatars that can show socio-emotional behaviours, gestures, and respond by using speech, will be used to generate emotional behavior during social interactions and examine the effect of emotional synchronization on the prosocial behaviour.

Dr. Yalçin and her team at Affective Computing and Human-AI Interaction (ACHAI) Lab will use the results of this study to understand the effects of synchrony in social interactions, and use this knowledge to create better interactive agents.